What’s a Kaiju animated series to do? After waiting six whole episodes for Godzilla to finally show up in the flesh, all we got in epidode 7 was a single measly pre-credits sequence that saw our mutating main attraction switch forms from sea faring to something more land worthy. However, anyone clicking on “play episode”, excited finally get their ‘zilla on is about to get a swift, cruel injection of frustration as it seems our lumbering anti-hero is going to pull a diva-ish tease once more as – after engaging some tanks – he once again takes a page out of Shin Godzilla’s book and decides to go dormant immediately after giving us a small taste of the good stuff.
By now, we’re way past the halfway point for the entire season, so how does episode 8 manage to stop G fans rage quitting altogether? Simple: expand the Kaiju community even further.
The creature named Godzilla has made it out of the Tokyo Bay and is shedding red dust at an alarming rate, however, the military is on hand to pump a few dozen, ineffectual tank shells in his direction to make him feel welcome. As thanks, Godzilla returns fire by expelling a sustained blast of supercooled gas from his gaping maw which causes a huge explosion and results in the huge beast apparently killing itself and encasing its body within a red, crystalline mass.
While the army breathe a confused sigh of relief, more Rodans and Mandas are seen to be invading London, bringing yet more of the red dust to stain both the seas and skies and as Mei and Professor Li continue their works trip that’s somehow barely managed to fall foul of any giant pterodactyls or monster sea-snakes, they continue to wax lyrical about the red dust, archetypes, singular points and theories that missing scientist Ashihara had to link them all together. It seemed that to crack the mystery, Ashihara attempted to construct a supercomputer to figure all this crap out and even look ahead into the future, but after getting conflicting results the further ahead he tried to look, determined that due to the red dust, the world would end in 2030 (upbeat chap). Taken to Ashihara’s deserted home, it’s now Mei’s job to go through all his research and try to figure out what he was up to to replicate his work and possibly save the world.
Meanwhile, after finding a mauled Manda washed up on a local beach, Yun, Haberu, Goro and Jet Jaguar investigate a local docks and come across a creepy new threat – that of the arachnid creatures known as Kumonga. As the very vunerable humans haul ass, Jet Jaguar tends them off with his bitchin’ spear made from an Anguirus spike only to find that it’s going to take something more than a trivial mutilation to stop these bugs.
So once again the pendulum swings back to a place where the even baffling exposition is in balance with the on-screen monster mashing and yet again, it’s performed while Godzilla is stubbonly kept waiting in the wings. It’s both a God and bad this as on one hand, its impressive that a Godzilla show can function without much Godzilla in it – but in the other, why the hell are we watching a Godzilla-less Godzilla show in the first damn place?!
However, salvation comes from the strangest places and if you were to tell me twenty years ago that I would be watching an episode of a Godzilla anime and the best thing about it was a stylish brawl between two B-list (at best) Kaiju characters, I’d look you in the eye and call you a dirty liar. However, that’s exactly what happens as Jet Jaguar – fast becoming the show’s MVP with every passing moment – squares up to spindly, spider-bastard, Kumonga and I feel that this is the first time I’ve truly seen the brightly coloured robot for what he truly is. Watching him twirl his huge, ornate spear and stabbing giant bugs into a temporary oblivion, I finally get the character – he’s a samurai; hence the design of his rather harsh, angular looking face evokes the armour of if those ancient, Japanese warriors and I can’t believe it’s taken me literally decades to spot it.
Getting a whole new appreciation for a character you first encountered as a child is something of an impressive feat and the show manages to somehow do it again with the design with Kumonga. While he’s obviously still the scuttling arachnid who first popped up in Son Of Godzilla, his redesign incorporates aspects from other Kaiju just like Salunga merges Gabara and Baragon and there are distinct shades of the excitable beetle-monster, Megalon in the spider’s DNA. Essentially sporting Megalon’s face and having legs that end in those recognisable drill bit tips, old-school Showa Era fans will no doubt be thrilled with its funky new look, but it’s further enhanced by the fact that there’s another classic monster lurking in plain sight. As the mutilated Kumonga begin to stir, their gooey insides briefly forms the unmistakable shape of Hedorah: The Smog Monster which galvanised the bug remains to resume their assault – it’s these continued nods to the deeper Godzilla lore which keeps long time fans from growing agitated by the continuing science natter.
However, even this is starting to finally become more integral to the plot instead of just wild musing and now that the chatter has switched from archetypes to supercomputers means we’re almost certainly on the route to all this talk finally getting to some sort of point. The fact that the episode leaves Mei going through Ashihara’s rambling notes in the missing professor’s home also hints that this will soon be another dangling plot thread that will come to fruition sooner rather than later and will eventually aid the plot instead of slowing it down.
Still, thanks to the deployment of yet another monster set piece that allows the characters (and, in turn, the show) to think on their feet while in motion, Graftage stands comfortably as one of the better episodes of Singular Point’s thirteen episode run. When this show finally moves, it moves and hopefully Godzilla will similarly benefit from some similar action sequences that’s been bestowed on Rodan, Jet Jaguar, Anguirus, Salunga and now Kumonga. For now, however, we’ll still have to wait until the big, spiny lug is ready to belatedly take centre stage.